COVID-19 forces closure of Norfolk community washing baths

Downham Market community washing bath

By Ian Bred, Norfolk Correspondent

Norfolk’s community washing baths, used by yokels for centuries to attempt some semblance of cleanliness, are closing because of the coronavirus.

Local councils kept the washing facilities open for as long as possible, but cases of infection are rising.

Norfolk people like to wash each other in community baths once a month – a tradition going back centuries.

With no running water in most local hovels, it’s the only wash most Norfolk people get.

Now there are fears that while they cannot now catch COVID at the baths, they will simply die in their own filth.

One of the biggest community washing baths is in Downham Market and is pictured at the top of this page.

It allows up to 50 naked peasants at a time, male and female, although it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference.

Suffolk public health inspector Lorraine Fisher, 34, explained: “It’s hard for the rest of us to comprehend why these places still exist.

“It’s like something from the Middle Ages. But Norfolk people like this way to get their monthly wash.”

The Government has ordered all 25 of the county’s communal washing baths to shut tomorrow, meaning there will be something of a rush on today.

Local man Bubba Spuckler, who lives with his sister and their eight children, said: “Luckily I had a wash two weeks ago, so this doesn’t affect me at all.”

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